THE cycle of crime will be allowed to continue as long as floodgates of arms and ammunition remain open. Magistrate Alicia Chankar made this comment before sentencing a Venezuelan to 72 months in jail for having an illegal gun and 284 rounds of ammunition. Jose Afzal Herbes, pleaded guilty to both charges.
Chankar also sentenced him to 12 months for entering this country illegally. The sentences are to run concurrently. Herbes, a baker from Tucupita, was among nine Venezuelans who reappeared in the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court yesterday charged with illegal entry and firearm and ammunition charges. The others were Luis Pineda, Sixto Marcano Sanchez, David Arenas Rodriguez, Luis Medrano Matheus, Aquilino Rodriguez, Michael Perez Flores, Yonathan Mendoza Gonzales and Manuel Carrion. Via interpreter Moonilal Ragbir, Herbes told the court he brought in the illegal weapon to sell and intended to use the proceeds to buy food for his family.
“Are we bartering arms and ammunition for food? Is that where we reach now? We are wondering where the influx of people having more gun and ammunition from. This is an instance of where it is coming from,” Chankar said. Police arrested all nine on February 22, at a house on St James Crescent, off Renn Avenue in La Romaine.
The police are claiming that a Walther pistol loaded with .40 mm ammunition; a Ruger revolver with .38 mm ammunition; a Rossi revolver with four rounds of .38 mm; an extended magazine; 266 rounds of 9 mm ammunition and six rounds of .40 mm ammunition were found. Pineda, 30, faced an additional charge: possession of a revolver and three rounds of .38 ammunition. He too pleaded guilty, telling the magistrate he had got it from Herbes. He said because of the hardship in Venezuela, he intended to sell it to get money for food.
Chankar scolded him and sentenced him to 24 months on the gun charge. On the ammunition, she jailed him for 12 months. The sentences are to run concurrently.
Four others – Sanchez, Matheus, Rodriguez and Aquilino – pleaded guilty to entering the country on a date and at a place unknown and failing to report to an immigration officer for examination as required by law.
The magistrate sentenced each to 12 months’ hard labour.